Meg García is a doctoral fellow in the 2020-2022 class of the Interdisciplinary Minority Fellowship Program (IMFP) with the American Psychological Association (APA). She received her B.A. in Psychology from Texas State University and her M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of North Texas. Meg is currently a doctoral candidate in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and is serving the Charlotte, North Carolina community as a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate at Modern Era Counseling. Broadly, her research interests focus on racial identity development, trauma, grief, and loss, microaggressions, and relationship issues, with specific interest in supporting multiracial and biracial, Latinx/o/a, and immigrant populations.
Meg was initially drawn to the MFP because of the program’s opportunities in implementing change in underserved communities as well as connecting with like-minded colleagues and clinicians. She shared, “I have always valued multicultural social justice in both my personal and professional lives. I wanted to be a part of a larger movement toward multicultural social justice at the systemic level of mental health. Knowing that my colleagues and I are working together on systemic change across the country provides me such hope and fulfillment.”
When reflecting on how the MFP has enriched her academic and professional career, Meg shared that it has provided networking opportunities as well as access to conferences and professional development workshops. She stated, “Networking has helped me connect to other multiculturally minded professionals from across the country and understand what mental health efforts look like in other regions. The conferences and professional development workshops have also enriched my knowledge on current practices and efforts toward systemic change in mental health. Overall, this has helped me gain a clear direction for my clinical research, knowing the gaps that need to be filled.”
Participating in the MFP has also helped Meg build and nurture her professional network. She remarked, “I feel so connected to other professionals, from across the country, who are also striving for social justice in mental health. The community research project has allowed me to work closely with a group of professionals in an effort to improve integrated healthcare for the immigrant population. I have also been able to work and connect with a mental health care site in another state. Perhaps most importantly, the MFP has helped me connect with a network of various professionals in the mental health field, which allows us to better understand each other’s roles and how we can work together to improve mental health services as a whole.”
As a component of the IMFP fellowship, Meg is currently working with a community research team to conduct a project focused on integrated health care for the immigrant population. Meg shared, “My team plans to utilize student volunteers from the University of Louisville who are seeking clinical experience in their field of work. We hope to create a partnership in which students may complete their practicum, internship, and other requirements by supporting healthcare sites for immigrants. Students will support through community events, transportation, translation services, and more, in an effort to increase engagement and utilization of various integrated services. We look forward to including students from various programs, such as counseling, psychology, social work, nursing, and more.”
After completing her Ph.D., Meg intends to remain actively involved in multicultural research, service, and advocacy throughout her career. Her career goals include researching mental health disparities and discrimination as well as continuing her work in private practice and academia. She explained, “I plan to work as a full-time counselor and counseling supervisor as well as a part-time adjunct professor teaching graduate counseling students in clinical classes. I would like to continue my efforts in investigating mental health disparities for underserved clients and the effects of discrimination on mental health. My populations of interest include immigrants, clients of color, interracial families, and multi/biracial clients.”
Meg plans to apply the knowledge and skills acquired from the MFP to her research and professional clinical work as she hopes to encourage change in the counseling field and provide a space for advocacy in her community and abroad. She shared, “The knowledge I have gained will aid me in better collaborating with various mental health professionals to provide quality services to clients. I will utilize the professional development and research knowledge acquired to practice social justice counseling and advocacy for my clients. With a combined focus on clinical work, research, and advocacy, I can better collaborate with other professionals to impact social justice change at more systemic levels of mental health care.”
When asked if she had advice for anyone thinking about applying to the MFP, Meg spoke to the incredible experiences and relationships the program can provide and shared these words of encouragement, “This experience will provide you invaluable networking in which you can connect with colleagues in other professions and regions. The communal value of multicultural social justice will provide you such encouragement, hope, and clarity on how we can make equitable systemic changes in mental health care. After your time in the program, you will have enough motivation to last you for years to come.”